Posts Tagged ‘Privacy’

Facebook and Privacy Page

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

I was doing an article review on security and privacy for my class, and naturally Facebook was an easy subject. I found an article on Enterprise Security Today called “Facebook Launches Privacy Page to Appease Critics“, by Jennifer LeClaire. In it I found something that I hadn’t noticed before, the launch of the “Facebook and Privacy” page on Facebook. It looks like the first Wall entry is on May 27, so the page is definitely something new.

The Facebook and Privacy page states its mission as follows:

To provide you with the information you need to control your sharing on Facebook, and to gather input from the Facebook community about privacy.

Apparently this is intended to be a resource site for future privacy bungles issues. It looks like Facebook wants you to “Like” this page so you will be kept informed on privacy, both on Facebook and elsewhere.

As you can see in the screenshot, the tabs on the page cover Resources, Experts, Photo, and Video. The Experts page has links to a number of different privacy advocates and government regulators. The Resources page looks much nicer, like Facebook was more interested in the look and feel of this page. There are links to videos, help content, privacy settings, and more. It looks like a one-stop shop for Facebook privacy needs.

I think this was a good move by Facebook. It has taken quite a beating in the school of public opinion. It can certainly take the beating, to be sure, as even a loss of 10 million users would be as noticeable as a fly landing on your arm. However, as is often quoted in Spider-Man, “With great power comes great responsibility”. Sure, Facebook wouldn’t notice 10 million people leaving. That doesn’t mean it should abdicate its responsibilities to the public. This was a good step. Let’s put aside our cynical natures and hope that Facebook is indeed moving in the right direction.

Update: The original feed from facebook can be found here.

New Facebook Privacy Controls Now Live

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Last week Facebook announced new, easy-to-use privacy controls. I have been checking for the new features ever since, and finally the changes are live. When I logged into Facebook I saw the following message in my Home screen:

This seemed straightforward enough, so I clicked the link. You are taken to a page that describes the privacy features. It covers each area you need to check to make sure your privacy is secured. There are also some helpful screenshots to help guide you along. Once you are done with the tutorial, you can then go to your privacy settings.

You can click on each of the navigation categories – Everyone, Friends of Friends, Friends, and Recommended. I have some settings customized, so I see an option for Custom as well. Interestingly, the Recommended category isn’t as wide open as I expected. I wouldn’t use the Recommended setting though. I personally locked down to Friends Only, and then used custom features to allow my blog URL to be seen by everyone, and restricted some less-used e-mail addresses to myself only. If you don’t have a website you want people to find, you are fine going with Friends Only.

According to Facebook, this completes the evolutionary cycle the privacy settings have gone through these last few months. As always, take their word with a grain of salt. Never post something you wouldn’t want leaked all over the web.

Even with these new features, I still recommend adding the bookmarklet from ReclaimPrivacy to make sure you plugged all the holes. If you have any questions about installing the bookmarklet, let me know in the comments and I will do what I can to help.

Remember, uploading to the web is not a guarantee of privacy, especially if the information/images/video is going to Facebook. Only post things you won’t regret later.

Protect Your Facebook Privacy

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

I came across a new service for showing you what privacy settings are exposed on Facebook. I checked it out, and found out that I had not covered my bases as well as I thought I had. Thanks to ReclaimPrivacy, I am reasonably sure my privacy settings are as I want them.

To use the tool, go to www.reclaimprivacy.org and drag their bookmarklet into the bookmark bar in your browser. The page explains what to do and has a nice graphic to guide you. Next, log into Facebook and navigate to your privacy settings. Once you are on your privacy setting page, click the bookmarklet and watch the app work. Here is my final result:

As you can see from the image, I have green boxes on all but one area, indicating I have nearly locked down my settings. The one caution note involves the public broadcast of my website, which is this blog, so I left it open to public view. I was surprised to find some areas exposed that I thought I had plugged. I feel confident that I can use this tool to maintain my privacy in the future.

To use this tool, though, required a bit of a leap of faith. I have to trust that this tool is doing what it says and not harvesting my information. A good sign is that I didn’t have to log in to Facebook through the service. I will keep my eye on the reviews of the tool to make sure it continues to be safe to use. If you are unsure of how to protect your privacy on Facebook, I recommend this tool. Even with Facebook’s apparent concession to the privacy blunders, we have been warned. Whether or not we can truly expect online privacy is another matter altogether, but a bait and switch shouldn’t be tolerated, hence the uproar. Check out the feature. Hopefully it is as easy for you to use as it was for me. If not, send me a note and I’ll do what I can to help.